Women

I’m going to keep going for another week on the female angle. Mostly because the pond is still rippling with more and more allegations, more women speaking up, more women supporting other women and more men coming to a realization of what women might be putting up with on a daily basis.

First, let me just say that a line has been drawn. It’s about damned time, too. Women are tired and have been tired and sometime in the past year or so, we’ve had all our powerlessness thrown back into our faces, salt rubbed into the wound a few times too many… And we’re beginning to remember that the world turns on us. We are the glue, we are the backbone and we are the future of every generation that’s ever lived.

Sorry if that hurt your feelings, guys, but it’s the way nature intended the world to work, and ancient men decided they weren’t confident enough in the roles they’d been assigned to allow others to lead. (Take a look around and tell me how the last few millennia have worked out for everyone.)

Men are starting to realize that all women have faced harassment solely because they are women many, many times in their lives. You’ve done it too—and the things you’ve said to a woman will have been said to your mother, aunts, wife, and will be said to your daughters and granddaughters. And they were all told to shut up and take it. Don’t make waves, men will be men, boys will just run their mouths…Women have to be strong, you know.

Strong without taking credit. Strong enough to lend face to their menfolk so their delicate feelings don’t get hurt.

Really?

I’m writing an angry rant today because I’ve seen so many bullshit comments over the past few weeks, primarily written by men but also some of the hordes of brainwashed women, too. I’ve seen things about feminazis, liars who waited to come forward…and I’ve read comments about bringing up all the stuff the Clintons and the Kennedys had been accused of.

Well they’re dead, so let’s take them out of the political equation, ‘mm-kay? Also, blah, blah, Bill Clinton. Yup, he should be held to the same standards too. But why not back then? Because American women hadn’t had to wake up to the blatantly offensive things we wake up to today, and a different generation had still believed that keeping quiet was the best tactic for survival.

And maybe it was, but it’s not working anymore. Honestly, it never has worked, it was only a temporary fix, because we might be surviving today, but we’re not letting our daughters or our sons live in their future. We’re evolving, right now, very visibly. The upcoming generations will be so much different than anything we’ve seen in current history, and maybe that’s not a bad thing.

Sleazebags come in all shapes, sizes, colors and political affiliations. Some of these accusations hurt—I get it. It’s disappointing that human beings are not all good or all evil, that they don’t make it so convenient for the rest of us to judge. Pain is on both sides of the aisle now. But we’ve got to face it, we’ve got to uncover the festering wound because that’s the only way we can clean and heal it.

This is an issue of respect. Ask a man how he’d feel if another man went down the street catcalling him, groping him, pressuring him for sexual favors, threatening his career just because he didn’t give out blowjobs any time he was ordered to. How would he feel knowing that there might possibly be someone waiting for him in the dark, near his parked car or somewhere in his house, in any shadowed place, really, and that he wouldn’t just get beaten and robbed by someone stronger, but held down and raped, possibly by multiple men, just because they could do so.

Oh, and when they got raped, maybe they got pregnant too. No matter what health issues are at stake, no matter how old they might be…No matter that they may or may not even have access to adequate medical care for themselves, let alone a baby.

And men are surprised by our reactions. They’ve made jokes forever about how women on blind dates are scared they’ve been matched up with some serial killer. Well, yeah, because the guy in question might be a serial killer! Bad things happen to females who are alone. It’s partly why we pee together.

But we’re at a turning point. Turning points hurt, I know. But every day is a chance to start fresh, atone for the sins of the past, deal with the repercussions that you know you’ve probably earned and move forward with a new perspective and a new dedication to respecting others.

Respect. Seriously.

To finish this angry little rant about the rights of women and the responsibilities of men as human beings who occupy space alongside women, I’d like to share some observations I made while I lived in Africa. (Because women in America are standing up demanding respect, and because many places in Africa are undergoing its own changes concerning respect, too.)

The women (I knew) there are truly amazing.

Pare down all the first and second world bullshit, and you’ll see what women had always been meant to be and do. They lead, they laugh and they love. Unfortunately, most are still under the very oppressive thumb of patriarchy in some manner or another, but these women are the epitome of strength, grace and generosity. Without them, I wouldn’t have done half as well over there as I did.

They break their backs every day. They care for their families and take care of their families, and still have time to care for you, too. They point out what’s wrong with their corner of society, they hold their neighbors to standards of decency that anyone would agree with while simultaneously encouraging a bit of freedom in thought, word and deed. They love their children and their husbands fiercely, they forgive easily, but they also stand as guardians of progress and what’s right versus what’s wrong.

They’re not perfect, their cultures can be very different from anything you’ve ever known, but their humanity is rock-solid, and the same as nearly all other woman worldwide, regardless of ethnicity, nationality or education level. There are simply some morals that are universal.

Women are the keepers of those morals and societal standards, but we forgot that and once we forgot, we had a hard time passing it on to our children. Now we’re living in a time when respect is a rare commodity, internet trolls draw blood on the daily and leading political figures figuratively spit on common folk for no good reason other than greed and egotism.

That’s our line in the sand. There’s a lot of you on the opposite side of that line too, so y’all better hold on to your hats because the erosion of the shit that’s piled up over previous, silent generations has already started.

Do you believe in magic?

Today, I’m getting my kitchen witch on.

Okay, over the past week, I’ve been getting my kitchen witch on. I believe in magic, but, as much as I’d love to believe in magic wands, flying broomsticks and that scene in Practical Magic where Sandra Bullock blows on the candle to light it, that’s not what I think it’s all about.

Ironically, I believe in practical magic, just not the movie. Like a few weeks ago when I was searching for a non-specific ring, and something told me to look in my grandmother’s junk drawer…keep digging…farther. I had no idea what was in there or what I was even looking for, but not only did I pull out a fox pin (see my post on how I keep finding foxes everywhere) but also exactly what I needed for the project I was working on.

Practical, right? (BTW, now I can’t stop finding rings. They’re everywhere—in my sink (!!) on the street, on the floor, in boxes…And I’ve never seen any of them before.)

So I’m currently quite taken with the idea of a kitchen witch. My (Welsh-descendant side) family has a long and vivid oral history of who saw ghosts, who knew what in an uncanny manner, who had dreams… We were once witches most likely, and to this day carry a heavy emphasis on the female, the matriarch. Things happen with my family members, strange occurrences are the norm for us and certain concepts don’t really faze me.

This past year, as many of you know, I got really sick. It required me to change my entire diet in order to have a functioning system again. So I’ve gotten into nutrition. Also, years ago, I lived in Africa and I was very into nutrition then (forced to be, really) and started learning a lot about natural medicines (again, forced to by circumstances) and was privileged enough to have seen some extremely intelligent, compassionate and even magical women working in their roles as traditional healers.

 

In case you doubt my emphasis on the strength of women, and the ancient roles of women that I believe should be and are being reinstated in the present era, see my post about the feminine divine.

 

 

Anyway, this past year, I’ve gotten back into nutrition in a big way. My grandmother was always the one with the green thumb, but I’m about to try my hand with some kitchen herbs, and considering the fact that I don’t particularly care about growing things, this is especially surprising. But the need is there. To have some greenery around me, to have the aromatic scent of fresh herbs, to know that I’m growing something that is beneficial to the things I’m cooking and therefore my family’s health, is really making me happy.

Also, my cat’s been poisoning himself with a new houseplant, so I’ve got to replace it with a better, healthier distraction for him.

I’ve been cooking alot. For months now, I’ve cooked nearly every day. I’ve focused on fresh vegetables, and have nearly done away with meat. Not because I’m a vegetarian and not because I have some moral objection to it, but my body doesn’t do well with meat anymore. It makes me literally sick, to the point where my system starts shutting down again until it’s fully digested, which takes weeks, with the way my system is sluggish, especially after consuming meat. A cycle of horrors (and pain, illness, etc.)

Because of my health, I’m getting organized. I’ve rearranged rooms, furniture, logistical systems. I’m moving things around in my kitchen to institute some sort of organization and I’ve created a pantry out of things I already had in my house. I both hate it, and love it. Maybe one day I can do a real renovation, but that would require a lot more people buying my books!

Speaking of… I’ve been meaning to get a recipe book, then I realized I have an old day planner that I fell in love with years ago. It’s a binder, so the pages are easily removed or added, yet it’s leather-bound with a closure and plenty of slots for (business cards) little things I want to keep. Since I’m not using it as a planner anymore, I thought about doing a recipe book in this, scrapbook style, with cutesy things, pictures, quotes…

So of course I looked that up. And saw the kitchen witch thing. And it feels right. It fits.

It seems that’s what I am becoming, or maybe that’s what I always was. I’m a caretaker, always have been. Maybe the magic that runs through my family finally found its natural place inside me. Not that I didn’t have any (I could tell some stories!) but maybe it’s more fully realized in this endeavor than it has been in any other. I’m continually drawn toward caring for people (addicts, the sick, the elderly and children to date) and healing in some way (in Africa I served a role in community health and have worked in hospital settings and clinics in the US). I love the idea that nature has provided us a foundation, even though I fully believe there are things science does much better.

But taking care of my family, infusing health and love into all the things I’m doing around my home and growing ever more excited by the way one project leads toward another is surprising, and inspiring. It’s so much work, but I’m excited to do it.

I’m not Wiccan. I always say ‘Wiccan-ish’ knowing that I believed in and felt something, but also knowing it wasn’t what other people believed and knew. I was raised in the Lutheran church, anyway, and yet feel there is truth in every religion. That makes me an Omnist, I think.

So I’m embracing this kitchen witch concept whole-heartedly, because it’s not about religion. It’s not about what you believe or the dogma you adhere to. Anyone can do this, all that’s required is faith. Faith in yourself and your ability to provide a good meal and a happy home for your family, the love you have for them, the need to take care of others that you pour into every dish and enforce every time you mop.

This is magic at its most practical, and at its most profound. It’s the magic of love.

Ignoring My Inner Perfectionist

So, yes, I’m participating (unofficially) in NaNoWriMo. I can’t say it’s fun, but it’s getting words on the page. Every morning, I wake up (early) and spend my first hour of the day writing. It’s still dark and I’m tired. I’ve also been ignoring the fact that what I’m writing might be crap. It might be repetitive and it hasn’t begun to touch on the depths I want my character to discover.

But, on this 6th day of NaNoWriMo, I have nearly 12,000 words written. And that is better than none, which is what I had on October 31.

I’ve been thinking about this story for a while. As most stories do, it has undergone massive transformations in what I want, what I would say and what I would tell. I decided to go back to my original concept, only because that’s the one that had gotten me excited. I did change some things, finding inspiration in Dante’s Purgatorio and waffling on genders until I settled on the M/M concept I’d started with, but lacking any erotic content. I can change everything again later, if need be.

I decided to incorporate a vague concept(s) brought to us by Dante Alighieri in his famously enduring trilogy the Divine Comedy—Inferno, Purgatorio and Paradiso. Dante was an Italian poet who lived in the Middle Ages. He wrote the Divine Comedy seemingly as a socio-political commentary, much like I do occasionally with My Bone To Pick. He pointed out the bad things going on, some of the good things, and expressed both guilt and regret over the things he’d done, too. His friends and his enemies were both called to the carpet, and his home city of Florence went so far as to exile him. They regretted that later, and even created a false tomb for him after death though his body was interred in Ravenna.

His Comedia is still regarded as one the greatest pieces of literature.

I’d only read Inferno, so I find myself searching the internet nearly every day for Purgatorio references. In Purgatory the sins his MC encounters on his travels has a difference in the severity of the same deadly sins in hell. Hell is primarily reserved for sins that were intentionally harmful, while purgatory seems more neglectful. I’m trying to incorporate that distinction in a general sense.

My MC, Christian, killed himself, which should put him straight to hell according to Dante and his medieval beliefs (some of which persist today). Suicide is a mortal sin, no coming back… Except Christian learns from his guide, Cato (yes! The same name as the guide in Purgatorio, but a totally different take) that spirits called Siphons had attacked him until he couldn’t fight back emotionally. They drained him of all energy and positivity and left nothing but negativity until there was literally no light left in his world. True energy vampires (having just set one of the human variety free from my life, this concept is highly motivating to me).

Christian is getting a second chance after death to prove that, given a different set of circumstances, he would choose a different way. Hopefully.

This is non-erotic, but there is a romance. In just a few more days, I’ll bring Christian to meet Beattie, a poor, beleaguered young man just over the age of majority, so it’s not too weird. Christian is twenty-two.

Beattie’s father is the CEO of a private hospital specifically dealing with mental health issues. Beattie is gay, which his father isn’t too happy about, and also sees spirits, which is the ultimate reason he’s locked up. His brother and sister are fighting their father in court to get their brother reinstated as a fully competent adult, but, in the meantime, he’s in the hospital getting attacked by the same type of spirits Christian was attacked by.

Now, Cato the guide has been having a hard time getting Christian to feel any emotion after being so damaged by the energy vampires, let alone getting him to feel empathy for others. But something about Beattie captures Christian’s attention, and he discovers they have so much in common. He starts to care, then he falls in love…

And Beattie with him.

Of course, they’re doomed for what might amount to be a tragic ending in the world of Romance, but they will each get a different type of happy ending. This story is about learning to love others just as much as you learn to love yourself. It’s acknowledging that not every love you receive in your lifetime is meant to carry on until the end of days, but that doesn’t make it any less important.

I’m excited, no matter that I sometimes want to take a day off (God, and that’s only a week in) or that I want to go back over and pick this story apart with a fine-toothed comb. I want to edit my mistakes, but I’m resisting. I’m letting this thing go, letting it grow wild like a vine, I haven’t even plotted the damned thing except a synopsis so I know what should be happening, but not when. When I’m finished, on December 1, I’ll start looking it over and see what I’ve got.

Until then, I’m going to bury my control-freak perfectionist in a closet somewhere and write for the love of writing.

You can find daily excerpt s of this story on my Facebook page.

NaNoWriMo for the first time

Every year I see a thousand posts about NaNoWriMo. National Novel Writing Month. Established authors and aspiring writers both seem excited about it and flood social media with word counts and updates.

I always thought, why bother? That’s how long it takes me to write a rough draft anyway. Why should I get involved in this activity and put added pressure on myself to hit a goal, especially when I’ve usually just finished writing a novel. November is for editing—with good reason considering that’s when my holiday rush starts. Time seems to move faster and there’s never enough of it.

I’ve only written new material once in November. (Once, ever.) Book 2 of my Magic Matched series, and then, before the month was out, I’d also written two-thirds of Book 3. The muse was upon me.

I’m calling her back this month. I’m begging my muse for a moment of her time. Or, barring that, I’m begging my motivation to come off its hiatus.

I’ve had a hard year—really starting last fall, so not just this calendar year. Everything has slowed down, everything has been stressful. Personal issues have overtaken my schedule, there’s no time to write and, when there is, I have little motivation to do so. I’ve been exhausted, running from one catastrophe to the next.

I’ve been working on the same rough draft for four months now. I’ve put aside one book completely and haven’t released anything new since the last of The Double O Saga, which I wrote last year (a struggle, as my year of hardship had just begun). I don’t feel like releasing new stories, I don’t feel like marketing, I don’t feel like participating.

I am working on a book though (see above) but I’m only halfway through. I need roughly 40,000 words to make it a full-length novel. But finishing a work in progress is not the point of NaNoWriMo, is it? You’ve got to start fresh, with a new story and not a single word written before November 1, correct? This counts out a lot of projects I’ve started where I’ve got a few chapters, or whatever.

I have to finish the one book. But I’ve got to shake things up too, maybe remember why I started writing in the first place. So I’ll be starting a second book. That one needs 50,000 to complete NaNoWriMo. That brings me up to 90,000 words? Different stories, different techniques, different motivations…same goal: Finish.

Holy Hell.

My plan is to buckle down and finish the first, but also taking my time with that story the way I usually do with all my stories. Some days, I really can’t write. Life happens. Plus, I’m a writer who needs a little bit of self-editing along the way. I can’t progress if something feels out of place or fits poorly.

So I’m also going to wake up earlier every single morning, write a chapter of my new one without stopping, without looking back and without caring what I just wrote. No matter what, every single day. I’ll outline every chapter, decide what needs to be done in each beforehand, then simply write it. No looking back. I’ll fix it later.

And that’s the point, right? Just write. Nora Roberts said

‘I can fix a bad page. I can’t fix a blank page.’

Something has to shake loose around here. I started writing because I love it, because there were stories in my head clawing to get out, but somewhere along the way it got so commercial. I chose to write erotica because it was the most challenging genre I tried (seriously, you write about sex without sounding ridiculous then get back to me with your condemnation, mmkay?) But this NaNoWriMo, I’ll be writing something totally different. Might end up being YA but probably NA.

It’s something I’ve been tossing around for a very long time, a romance where the two lovers truly can’t be together. They can’t be together physically, they can’t even touch physically, but the emotions are there…and maybe that’s the thing that saves them both.

It’ll be challenging. I’m used to creating physical interludes between my characters to express a range of emotions, but what if it all just boils down to tension? I have to find a new way to show the emotional connection, longing and understanding. What if it’s learning how to love another that teaches you how to love yourself? And that opens the future’s possibilities…for them both. I mean, just because you love someone, doesn’t mean that’s who you belong with forever, right? This ain’t your typical romance.

For the first time all year, I’m really excited. Even if I fail, I can’t wait until November 1, when I’ll wake up too early to be rational, only half-functional, and write just for me. Even if no one ever sees it, even it’s awful, I’ll be putting words on the page, creating something. Something new, something I haven’t done before.

That’s the point. Just write. Create.

Happy NaNoWriMo, everyone. Good luck to the participants, and you’ll find my word counts and maybe some excerpts on my Facebook page and my website if you feel like stopping by to check it out. Leave your own word counts and excerpts in the comments, if you want. We’ll help each other through it!

I want to sparkle, dammit.

Once upon a time, I knew who I was, but then, seemingly suddenly though I know it was a gradual slide, I lost myself.

Most of us spend our teenage years and well into our twenties (or thirties) trying to figure out who we are. Some of us need more time, some of us need less time, but what I think none of us realize is…we need all the time. We need our whole lives.

By the time I’d reached my twenty-fifth year, I had a decent handle on my likes and dislikes, what I was courageous enough to attempt, how to trust my intuition and just how firm my moral foundation was. I knew the type of person I wanted to be and actively worked to become that person, with a few hiccups here and there because I’m human.

But things changed. Once I learned who I was, life conspired to test me or maybe evolve me, whichever. Without realizing, I slipped into roles defined by other people’s expectations. Maybe you can relate. Parent, child, sibling, spouse, teacher, counselor, healer, lover, protector…or take your pick from a thousand others. We are all something to someone else, but that singular title doesn’t begin to cover what we really are.

I started letting what they thought define me which, in turn, started wearing down my own sense of self. The more bits I lost of myself, the more depressed I got. I didn’t even know it, either, until one day I started crying and couldn’t stop. I only faced the sunlight when I had no choice. I was physically ill, tired… I don’t know if I had or have clinical depression because I refuse to see someone about it, in spite of my doctor’s referral and recommendation. (I’m stubborn and delusional and don’t want to hear their definition of me when I’m already fighting against so many others. If you think it would help you, however, I actively encourage you to seek help.)

I started writing, in fact, because I was pigeonholed into a box that didn’t fit, complete with expectations I didn’t want to live up to by people I didn’t want to let down.

I let others tell me who I was supposed to be and what I was supposed to do. And, because I didn’t want to seem too ‘special’ I stopped dreaming, or at least I stopped working toward my dreams, and then I got depressed because I wasn’t any closer to achieving my dreams. A terrible cycle.

Writing helped me combat the pull of others’ expectations. When I first started sliding, publishing a story was my act of courage, putting sentences together into a working plot was my rebellious act of giving voice to my inner self—not my fantasies, memories or wishes and not my feelings on people I know or even myself, really, but a certain piece of my soul that would not be silenced. Every time a publisher said ‘yes’ was both validation and liberation.

I haven’t always written well, but until two or three years ago, I wrote fearlessly. I’ll always have my inner editor yammering in my brain when I think about what has come before, but hidden inside those stories is my courage, my pain, my knowledge and my fear. But, here I am, a decade after I began sliding into other people’s boxes, and I’m still writing, still clinging to the art that lent me sanity.

I can see the difference. I can see how I’ve gone from writing ‘true’ to writing ‘soft.’ Not in all things, but enough. Whatever will people think if I… But, wait, that already happens. I wrote Levi fearlessly, and there is still criticism. I wrote My Voyeur, then changed it to be easier but that gets criticism too.

I’ve had a terrible few years. It could have been worse, yes, but there has been upheaval and change in ways that were brutal to live through.

—I say that because, looking back, I think it wasn’t too bad and though I remember my tears vividly, I remember my fear and anxiety, my physical unhealthiness, my fight through depression, I also hear someone who was close to me tell me I had nothing to be sad about. Looking back, however, thinking it wasn’t too bad, is me letting her put me into a box that doesn’t fit. It’s me slipping back into a role defined for me rather than by me. A clear and important distinction. I hit a breaking point, a true moment where I knew things had to change and so I did. I lost friendships, hell, I lost my mind—

But I found me again.

Guess what? I’m not the same as I was when I was twenty five. I’m someone else now, still with my spirit and, surprisingly, still certain of what sort of person I want to be. I’d lost some of my courage, changed parts of my public self to accommodate what others wanted me to be, and I’d forgotten the sound of my intuition’s voice…but I’m human, and I’ll consider that a hiccup that taught me a great deal about a whole lot.

I’m tired of holding back to accommodate others. I’m tired of not living true to myself or my courage, of pushing back on my dreams in fear of leaving others behind. I’m tired of dimming my light so that others don’t feel like I’m pretending to be special.

I want to sparkle, dammit.

Also, I want to write what feels right, not because I think the majority will handle a story better if I change this or that. Sorry, but oh well, if I make you uncomfortable…maybe that’s your problem to evolve through.

I’m writing this on the off-chance that someone else might need to read it. I’m writing this to prove to myself that I’m still courageous enough to face the truth, even when it hurts. And, the truth is, you need to find yourself every day. You need to define yourself every day. Even if you’re different every day, it’s up to you to tell the world who you are and who you want to be, because, otherwise, the world will tell you—and that’s soul-sucking.

Every day, embrace who you are and recognize that that can change repeatedly. Be courageous, be true. You are special, don’t let the haters tell you you’re not. You should spend your whole life defining you to yourself, don’t let others do it for you.

A Divine Female

I want to share a story I recently came across concerning Inanna, the ancient Sumerian goddess of both love and war, connected to Venus, known as the Queen of Heaven, celebrated and honored as a powerful deity.

Inanna went to visit her sister, who ruled the underworld. Before she went, she instructed her servant to contact the gods if she hadn’t returned by the third day because anyone who entered the underworld wouldn’t be allowed to leave. Wearing an elaborate outfit, Inanna descended.

She passed through seven gates in the underworld, all of which had been ordered closed and locked by her sister. At each gate, Inanna was forced to give up a part of her outfit until she finally stood before her sister naked and powerless. She still made her sister get off the throne so she could sit, but judgment was passed against her. Inanna was sentenced to death and hung on a hook.

Three days passed and her servant appealed to the gods. At first, they refused to help, knowing Inanna had brought about her own punishment but the god of creation and magic was troubled by the occurrence and agreed to help. He created two figures to collect Inanna’s body. Her sister was in agony, willing to trade anything to gain respite. The two take Inanna’s corpse and sprinkle the food of life onto it, resurrecting her.

Creatures are sent by the queen of the underworld to take someone in Inanna’s place. Inanna will not let them take her loyal servant and friends, because they had mourned her. However, her husband had not, entertaining other women while she was believed to be dead, and so she let them take him in her place.

Inanna’s sister-in-law pleads on behalf of her brother and is able to take his place for half the year in the underworld, thereby giving rise to the seasons.

~

This is one of the oldest recorded myths. You will notice the themes of descent into the underworld, death and resurrection. In three days, no less. Food of life…Seasons changing. I’m sure you’ll also notice how these particulars themes carry on throughout other cultures’ mythologies, first among female deities (Persephone, for example) and then to males (like Jesus.)

I don’t particularly care what you believe, I just think it’s interesting that a common myth begins with a goddess, and yet, so many have never even heard of her. A woman who lost her power, was trapped in a world with no light or life, but brought back and resurrected to retake her throne.

Would that womankind did the same.

In recent days, we have, again, been bombarded by the fact that many men still hold no respect for women. We have seen rapists and molesters in powerful positions come to light and we have seen rapists and molesters put into powerful positions against all commonsense. We are losing girls to the sex trade, taken as they walk home from school, snatched off the street and seduced on the internet. The stories go on and on, memes, hashtags and movements abound, but still it seems like so many are swimming against the current, and so many are deliberately pretending to an obtuseness that can’t possibly be genuine.

It wasn’t always like this. A long, long time ago, women were venerated, respected, loved and cared for. They were the leaders of their families and of society. Lineage and authority were traced through the mother’s line because she knew who her children were, while men had to take her word for it. She wasn’t called vile names for knowing the worth of her own body, nor was she vilified for celebrating all the things her body could do.

She held power over her own self, her own actions and her own future.

I’m a traditionalist in the sense that I think society as a whole should revert back to ancient traditions concerning power roles. Essentially, to my view, women were meant to lead because we are the caretakers and men were meant to protect, following their leaders’ directives, because they are physically stronger. Somewhere in humankind’s past, men took over the power—and don’t argue because this is well-accepted history. For the past several thousand years, men have controlled ‘civilization’ and they’ve been running it into the ground.

Because they aren’t natural caretakers. They are natural protectors, but what they’ve been protecting are resources, money, institutions that guarantee them more power. Women tend to care more about people, the elderly, the downtrodden, the children. Society.

Yes, I know that’s overly simplistic and there will always be exceptions to the rule, but it seems to me that the way people are viewing the world these days, it’s best not to complicate the message.

I think it’s time the women got another shot at leadership. I think it’s time we started looking into our own history and mythology, so much of which has never been written down because history has been preserved by men. So many truly important deities were depicted as women, in both love and war, hearth and home, travels, life and death. And justice, most especially justice. Interesting, right?

I think women should step up and show their strength, and I think that’s happening right now.

A Must Read Trilogy

So, I saw a book and the description looked more interesting than anything I’ve seen in a long time in the world of paranormal romance, and coming from a new-to-me author. I’ve been more inclined to reread old favorites in my favorite genre than I have been to seek out new stories. I’m just as weary of trying to read stories I don’t like as every other reader out there…

But I saw this one and I decided to sign up for a review copy. I guess I’m a sadist in a way, and once I did sign up there was no going back. Then I realized it was a trilogy, and I’d just signed up for the third.

Praying hard, I found the first two books. Their descriptions looked interesting, too.  Then I saw the author was from Baltimore, Maryland, my hometown. Gotta support my fellow Maryland writers, especially when they’re writing my favorite genre, the genre I write.

N.D. Jones must be my storytelling soul mate. What I love, she wrote about. Concepts I use, she used too. And, praise all that’s holy, her books were amazing. I loved them all and once I started reading, I didn’t stop until they were finished. The Death and Destiny Trilogy is a must read for anyone who loves paranormal romance.

Of Fear and Faith

It’s been a while since I read a paranormal romance by a new-to-me author that I enjoyed this much. N.D. Jones wrote a fantastic story that sweeps you up and bowls you along. Her characters have depth, they’re relatable. You root for them, cheer their triumphs and wince when they show you just how ‘human’ they can be. She also shows you just how enduring and entertaining classic concepts can be in the right hands.

My only ‘criticism’ of this story was that she’d written a clear resolution, the conflict had been resolved…but the story kept going on, down a different path that later proves valuable to the series, but not that particular book. It felt unconnected from what had come before. I wondered if it had been meant to be a short story between Book 1 and Book 2, and so that’s how I viewed it. Bonus story! So, not really a criticism at all, in that light.

I sat down to read this entire series because, for the first time in a while, my interest was caught by a paranormal romance’s book description. I’m so glad I did. I devoured this series, barely coming up for air, doing little else until I’d read them all. This trilogy is going on my To-Be-Read-Again pile, and I’ll be watching for other books by N.D. Jones.

Of Beasts and Bonds

The whole story is well done—the whole trilogy for that matter. I love that the two main characters are revealing themselves to each other bit by bit, and that both their magic are developing in tandem. I love the intricate and rich relationships both main characters enjoy, giving a sense of the deep roots they have and what they have to lose. Technically, when the time comes, they will fight for the world, for a goddess, but you know they’re really fighting for their circle of friends and family and I think it’s fantastic that the extended characters are also developed enough to make us feel their connections.

I was fully immersed in the world of witches and were-cats when I began this story. N.D. Jones has crafted a trilogy that swept me up and carried me on. I went from finishing Book 1 to beginning Book 2 in the space of minutes, so I will say that the devil’s in the details, and there are many details in the second book, not all of them necessary and not all of them felt consistent. Nothing major, however, and it was easy to lose myself in the pages.

I am so glad I found this trilogy. It’s been too long since I enjoyed a paranormal romance from a new-to-me author, and I’d forgotten how exciting it is to find a gifted storyteller who writes stories you want to read again and again.

 Of Deception and Divinity

This book is nearly non-stop action. From paranormal battles to emotional upheavals, I couldn’t put this one down until I was finished—and that’s saying something considering how avidly I devoured the previous two books in the trilogy.

As the title implies, this book is the one where lies are revealed. N.D. Jones does a fantastic job of balancing the past influences on our main characters with their present day fears, failures, achievements and love. In fact, she makes the reader feel the love between Assefa and Sanura in a way that’s real, lasting…and threatened, so that you end up holding your breath in the hopes that they will find victory, which isn’t guaranteed.

All bonds are tested—friends, families, mates and familiars. Sanura’s character is a better woman than I am, because she proves herself much more forgiving than me, and more quickly forgiving at that. Assefa’s personal demons must be faced, and while I think the premise for his long absence from his witch a bit thin, it still holds merit considering his character’s fears, and I appreciate that he was the one that set about his own healing once he realized what he had to lose. Oddly enough I’m much more forgiving of the water witch of legend than the cat of legend, primarily because her inner conflict is completely understandable to me, but my disappointment in the one only emphasizes how ‘real’ these characters have been crafted to be.

One extremely minor ‘criticism’ for the formatting of this story. Near the end, the author inserts images in order to illustrate her vision. I’d have preferred the images to be in an appendix of some sort, and for her to have trusted her readers to create their own image, and to trust her own words, which were fluid and descriptive and more than good enough to convey the vision she wanted.

Romances have a happy ending. I wasn’t certain if this one would—there were several ways this story could have ended, including the continuation of the series into ‘the next generation’. It’s a testament to Ms. Jones’ skill that I was so worried for the outcome of her characters and, until it happened, I couldn’t be sure just what would happen.

Ms. Jones is taking the secondary characters of this book and creating stories for them, too. I will be the first in line to buy those books. If you enjoy paranormal romance as much as I do, you will not want to miss the Death and Destiny trilogy.

You can find the promotional post for N.D. Jones here.

What’s a Writer to Write About?

I’ve been wracking my brains for blog post topics. It’s harder than you might think and I’m really trying to be consistent with this idea now. Over the past few years, I’ve discovered I’m not very good at sharing my thoughts, not very good at conveying advice in a timeframe that might encourage people to look forward to a certain day. I’m not a blogger.

What can an author write about? Writing, which seems boring. Maybe some paranormal creatures, which is an interesting approach, I suppose. I do that sometimes. We’re not going to write about the plots spinning in our minds because we tend to be a paranoid breed and we don’t want others to write our story before we can.

With everything that’s been going on, I’ve been trying to figure out what to write that wasn’t political nature. That’s turning out to be harder than ever. There’s so much happening, so much destruction from nature and human nature both, so many bad decisions being made, so many people moving away from compassion and empathy, so many damned trolls on a variety of comment boards. In fact, some of these trolls—I can’t help but think—don’t even believe the bullshit they write, but I also think they’re tempting fate by writing it anyway.

What comes around goes around, and that’s a karmic law we’ve all seemed to have forgotten. It’s part of the golden rule of every religion—do unto others… That’s the gist, anyway.

I wonder if people stop to ask ‘why’ anymore. Why do you believe what you believe, why do you feel the way you do, why do you think whatever you think. How many of the thoughts and comments you repeat are really yours? And why can’t you see from the other’s point of view? Is it really so threatening to take pause and examine more closely? Just thinking about something doesn’t imply agreement of, or support for, that idea…

Maybe it just affords us a moment to remember that the other person is human too.

This came through my Tumblr the other day. Maybe there is something to this. Maybe, through all these natural disasters, all the strikes against humanity via terrorism, lone wolf gunmen or everyday assaults against compassion and understanding, we’re building a common, hidden thread of weariness that suggests enough is enough, and it’s time to be people again. It’s time to remember that everyone else is people, too.

To have and to hold…

Today I’m interested in the Fourth Amendment.

Search and Seizure. Essentially, this amendment guarantees every citizen’s right to be free from unreasonable government intrusion into their lives, property, businesses, etc. This is why the police and government agencies need warrants to look deeper when they suspect you’ve committed some crime or infraction. This is why it’s illegal to pull someone over for no good reason and search the trunk of their car, or their pockets. It’s why police can’t just barge into your house, why they can’t stop and frisk young black men for simply walking down the street. It’s why the government can’t fly drones over your corn field looking for your hidden marijuana plants or tap your phone or read your emails. Social media is not included…

This Amendment doesn’t get as much press as the First or Second, and do you even know what the Third is? (Quartering soldiers. Britain used to make people house the military at their own expense. Way to save on the military budget, right?) Anyway, the Fourth is very important, so while 1 and 2 have their rabid battles, the Fourth is quietly doing the heavy lifting of protecting the citizens of this country.

While everyone was distracted, it came under fire.

Most notably, the Fourth has been undermined by Trump’s pardon of Sheriff Arpaio. According to the Washingtom Post (just to name a source, but it’s validated by other news organizations) a federal judge ordered Arpaio to stop detaining people who were not suspected of actual criminal activity.

Essentially, Arpaio disregarded court orders and targeted people he thought specifically fit a stereotype in his region of what an ‘illegal immigrant’ was. Cough, cough…’Mexicans’…

For the record, being in this country, even without documentation, isn’t illegal—which I know will be a shocker for so many to learn. Undocumented residence in this country is a civil violation. It’s on the same level as not paying child support—which may, depending upon state rules, result in a stay in jail, but isn’t something that would go on your record or even cause deportation (shock!). Jaywalking is a crime, living somewhere isn’t.

Side note to create empathy: let’s say you’re a white man. Let’s pretend that being in the KKK, while not a crime, will get you fined for some civil violation. Maybe…I don’t know…it’s against your town’s decency standards, or something. So, Sheriff Someone goes looking for KKK members, but he starts stopping every white man he comes across because, let’s face it, nobody else is joining the group, right? But you got stopped, just because you were white… You’re not part of the group, would never be part of the group, but you still got stopped, frisked for any potential burning crosses, strip searched and checked out for swastika tattoos and then your home was also ransacked—and God help you if your sheets are white, yeah?

Is that fair? No. No, it’s not fair because you were just walking across the Walmart parking lot, minding your own business with no discernible tattoos or political/religious affiliations. Still, you fit the stereotype and so you were stopped. Wow, that must be infuriating…and illegal.

But Sheriff Someone was given a free pass, not only setting a precedent that other sheriffs in other towns may follow, but creating a boisterous, though small, group of supporters for Sheriff Someone’s policies regarding this terrible, indecent nuisance. Yes? So what happens when the town council decides it’s indecent for men to wear socks with sandals, which is your favorite thing to do? Or for residents to eat anything other than locally-grown fair trade organic produce but you’re allergic to spinach and only eat meat? With me so far? Maybe….?

Well, here’s another example, then. According to the NY Post, among others, Trump’s lawyers have asked Facebook for private information concerning private individuals who have ‘liked’ anti-Trump pages. Like the rest of America, I take news these days with a grain of salt and look for multiple sources to validate whatever claims are made. This is not making waves, so do your research, butI believe this case to be true, especially given this Administration’s history with these things.

What history? Demanding voter information, for one example. Some of what they wanted was public knowledge, or for sale through the State, but other requested data was inessential to what they were looking for. So what will they really use it for? What does this particular, and unpopular/authoritarian-leaning, administration want with the information that previous administrations didn’t feel the need to waste money on? We blame Trump’s narcissism, he needs to prove those other 3 million votes were illegally cast, but there could be a darker purpose.

Like, oh, I don’t know, rounding up critics and those opposed to the sweeping and oft-times detrimental policy changes being enacted upon us. Puts that Facebook thing into a different light, looking at it from that perspective, right? How…Orwellian. I suggest you read some, in fact.

They’ve got the ‘average’ American hoodwinked, too. They (a particular set of media/politicians/ideologues) challenge your natural reaction to giving up your privacy. You shy away, you have a funny resistance to it… But they say, what do you have to hide? You’re a good American, a patriot, don’t you want to help…

But you’re helping the downfall of your own Constitution. Every time you say, sure you can look at my corn field on camera, sure that phone could be tapped, of course they should give up their emails…what do they have to hide? You are undermining the very hard-working Fourth Amendment, and you might not care so much about it right now, but just wait till it’s gone. This one, above all, is the very concept that truly stands between freedom and totalitarianism.

Laws can be changed, and in this political climate there is no guarantee that you’ll know beforehand. You could let the police into your house thinking to be helpful, and, in certain towns, if they spy your dildo, you can be charged. If they use the bathroom, without search and seizure restrictions they can open your medicine cabinet and poke around…What do you have in there? Did you dispose of any leftover medications legally and properly?

The wholesale removal of rights would cause an uproar among us all, but a little bit here and there…and what does it matter of you’ve done ‘nothing’ wrong…

There are a myriad of small infractions a lot of us commit every day, and the Fourth keeps our little, mostly innocuous secrets safe. So be a good citizen, pay attention, and protect your privacy however you can.

That’s my bone to pick…

You won’t always agree, and that’s okay. I’d still love to hear your comments, so long as you can manage to keep yourself respectful, because we all deserve a little dignity. Be human, you know? I’m not a liberal and I’m not a conservative. I believe the best path lies in the middle and the truth takes participation from both sides. I also believe we’re on a dangerous, slippery slope because a lot of sides of a lot of issues aren’t listening to anyone else.

Nobody is always entirely right…

 

 

Monday Morning I want my Quarterbacks

So, for a while now, I’ve been threatening to get my rant on. For the most part, I’ve wanted to keep my politics separate from my business because we all know how how fast a business goes up in flames when you voice an opinion that somebody is bound to disagree with…

Which is, ultimately, why I decided to start up this section, entitled My Bone to Pick. My opinion, my perspective, and we all know that, in this day and age, perspective IS reality, no matter if that perspective is right or wrong, true or false, yes?

I’m not a coward. My business doesn’t mean more to me than speaking out for the right things. And why should everybody else get to have their say and not me?

So, the topic du jour this Monday, September 25th, 2017: Who took a knee at the football game?

Oh, let me rephrase that: Who cares who took a knee at the football game while North Korea declares (potentially nuclear) war on the United States of America?

Y’all are so worried about your favorite player having an opinion different than yours that you’ve ignored the real threat to your freedoms and safety. Squabbling amongst ourselves is going to get much more difficult to do when we’re all choking on toxic radiation. And you were so concerned about Zika…and Ebola…wait till you get a load of what’s coming.

Hold on, though. I promised an opinion, right?

My opinion is, #takeaknee. Quite frankly, I think Kap was lazy, didn’t feel like standing up, got called out on it and came up with a brilliant protest on the fly. (So, good job, there, man.) Now that there’s something to kneel for though, I’m down with it. Since when is kneeling disrespectful? Don’t you kneel before God (because, let’s just call a stereotypical spade a stereotypical spade and posit the theory that Good Christians are the ones with the strongest Anti-Knee opinion, mmm-kay?).

They shouldn’t do it on their team owner’s time? Maybe the owner doesn’t mind. Maybe, in fact, the owner agrees with the protest. After all, he sees the value in the men of color on his team, right? He doesn’t just appreciate the white players. The owner sees their achievements, their skills and, in many cases, their humanitarian efforts. And yet, so many people in the communities these men have come from, who may even share similar value, efforts and achievements, don’t have the same opportunities…and they don’t have the same freedoms. Maybe rectifying that is a fight the owners believe in and support.

Sure, you have the right to not watch, tear up your ticket, write the Commissioner (because I’m sure he’s personally reading your letter, uh-huh, I’m positive). Or, you could just sing the anthem louder. (You do know the words right? ‘Cause, if not, that’s disrespectful, you know?) They only kneel for the length of the first verse, so, maybe you could just handle yourself until the game starts?

Maybe, while you put your hand over your heart and honor those who fought and died for your country and your Constitution, you could also spare a minute’s contemplation for the men and women who have served to protect freedoms they didn’t, and still don’t, have.

And if you’re feeling moved by any amount of Christian sentiment, any molecule of empathy for your fellow Americans, those who put their lives on the line so you could argue about non-harmful, peaceful events that took place in the last five minutes of a pre-game ritual, perhaps you, too, will be driven to your knees so you can pray that all people of your homeland, all members of what essentially amounts to being your tribe, may one day share the same equality and justice that you have.

That’s my bone to pick…

You won’t always agree, and that’s okay. I’d still love to hear your comments, so long as you can manage to keep yourself respectful, because we all deserve a little dignity. Be human, you know? I’m not a liberal and I’m not a conservative. I believe the best path lies in the middle and the truth takes participation from both sides. I also believe we’re on a dangerous, slippery slope because a lot of sides of a lot of issues aren’t listening to anyone else.

Nobody is always entirely right…

This witching season, try something new…

 

I decided to help readers out a bit (and hopefully I don’t get in trouble for it). Now you can read the whole first chapter of each book in the Magic Matched series to decide whether or not the story might be for you. If it looks intriguing, you can also download a FREE, three chapter preview of Betrothed, the first book in the series, on Instafreebie.

I get it. Trying a new author these days is an ordeal. Even if the books are free, do you really want to waste your time if the story is awful or doesn’t resonate. I go through this too, when I find a new book by a new author. It helps when you can preview and get a good idea of what you’re getting yourself into…

And just to toot my own horn a bit, I’ve been told by many people that my series surprised them. Many readers loved it, they all think it just gets better and better, that the suspense is perfectly balanced with the romance…

“Fast-paced with a complex backstory, it’s like you’re reading the Game of Thrones for witches!”

“Once I started reading I was instantly hooked!”

“The love scenes were excellent, quite possibly some of the best I’ve read in a while. Its intelligent paranormal erotic writing and I love that. Combine that, with suspense and some turmoil, and I am hooked.”


Don’t take their word for it though. Try it for yourself.

In witching society, there is a strict hierarchy, Family covens are ruled by Mothers or Fathers who hold the bulk of their bloodline’s power and archaic rules are enforced, disregarding modern sentiments. Magic and politics are the only things that matter, and marriages are arranged for advantage rather than love.

Silviu Lovasz and Georgeanne Davenold must learn to open their hearts to each other in order to unlock their full magical potential. But with all that stands in their way – archaic traditions, murder plots, and a betrayal that threatens all they can be – they will need the group of allies they have built to help them navigate the dangerous world of witches, and the dark magic stalking them every step of the way.

Foxes, Bookstores and Getting Organized…

Foxes, Bookstores and Getting Organized…

What do they have in common? Me. That’s about all.

I’ve had a pretty hard summer, to be honest. If I was really honest, I’d admit to having a rough decade but, looking back, I feel like it wasn’t too bad. Sure, I cried rivers, came down with a mysterious illness doctors still can’t diagnose, developed anxiety and depression and a bit of an OCD tic where I repeat words and sentences to myself (thankfully not out loud), I’ve gone from one job to another, been stymied in my dreams, my ambition held back by old men and I’ve broken up with my oldest friend who felt I wasn’t worth the truth anymore—though I was worth asking for that loan…

Anyway.

I look back and think it wasn’t so bad, but that’s only because I came out stronger. It’s amazing how your perception changes over time. Hell, even just the other day I cried, but, listening to other people’s stories I consider myself lucky and blessed and I think they have had a harder time than I…Except maybe they didn’t.

Emotions, motivation, aimlessness, sickness, death…blah, blah, blah.

I’ve been trying to open a bookstore. It’s nearing the time I’d wanted to be open, and I haven’t heard from my lawyer in a month, I’m not a legal entity yet and the place I wanted was sold out from under me by a suspiciously-resistant-to-selling realtor who likes to stand entirely too close to women in basements. The new place I looked at is oddly perfect…except the left front corner of the foundation is sinking and since I pointed that out, I haven’t heard back from that realtor.

No one is talking to me.

Except the universe.

My father always pokes a bit of fun at my term ‘the universe.’ I use it in place of ‘God’ which means my mother and grandmother just call me a heathen. Mmm, for the record, pagan, yes, but not heathen.

Strap yourselves in for some mysticism.

The universe speaks to me through insects—because who doesn’t love creepy crawlies, yeah? Scores of dragonflies and the occasional butterfly, a multitude of ladybugs and moths, sometimes a cricket and rarely a katydid. Ants and spiders, earwigs and silverfish, centipedes and caterpillars…sometimes a waterbug which I’d prefer not to get, and yet, the signs are there and I see them and understand. They really do tell me what’s coming or what to focus on.

So, imagine my surprise when the bugs stopped and the foxes started. Sometimes there were birds, so it wasn’t just me and the creepy crawlies, but believe me when I say the foxes got my attention as nothing else had. They’re so different from what came before.

And I live in a city (well, at the edge). Yes, foxes and even coyotes are everywhere in the US, but you don’t normally hear them calling out in an urban environment.

A fox has been waking me in the night, screaming—but it’s not mating season, so I don’t know what she’s looking for. I feel like she’s telling me to wake up, which fits with the theme of the random bugs and birds that have been knocking on my window all summer long. The day after I first heard the fox, I met two separate people wearing fox shirts. After that, two more fox shirts, a slew of new people named Fox have come to my attention, fox emblems, charms, quotes from people named fox showing up on social media…Foxes have taken over my awareness. It’s  only been a week and a half. Before you start sputtering about coincidence or seeing what I’m paying attention to, this is a very high amount of ‘fox encounters’.

So I looked them up. And there are a lot of truths that have slammed into my face as I did so. Now, in case you haven’t noticed from above, I’m closer to following pagan traditions than anything else, though I was raised Christian—specifically Lutheran. But, I also have a degree in world religions (and politics) so I understand a little bit about a lot of things. I can tell you now that no one has all the answers, and maybe one day I’ll share my theory of the Christian story concerning the Tower of Babel.

For now, let me just say that there are truths and messages coming to me on an urgent tide. Let me also give you a warning. I’ve separated my religion and my politics from my business. Writing books is my business. But I feel like spreading my truth. Like the fox, which can symbolize teaching, guidance, patience (and mischievousness, tricks and definitely intelligence) I’m ready to call out and wake someone up. Foxes have long been linked to camouflage, blending in when necessary, but, also, they know when to leap.

I’ve been hiding and I’ve been hidden. I contorted my life so as not to outshine the people around me, but I’m tired of that. I’m tired of waiting, I’m tired of others holding me back because somehow they’ve gained more influence over my life than I have, and I’m tired of biting my tongue so that my truth doesn’t offend.

But, you know what? This is my real estate. I’ve gotten my house in order and I’ve rearranged this website, hence the ‘organization’ part of the title. I’m ready to move into the next phase of my life, ready to step into my future and I pray it’s better than what I just went through.

I hope you’ll stick around and read what I’ve got to share. I hope you’ll take a look at my books and head over to my new webstore to see if there’s something you like, but if you can’t respect my opinion and my right to voice my opinion, then you may go immediately.

And to all the people personally in my life, it’s my turn now.

 

Realty Rant- Why is this old man blocking me?

So here’s just a little rant (these will be coming with more frequency because I’m tired of being the one who bites her tongue). Older men are making my future quite difficult right now. I’m in the process of opening a community center/bookstore-café, awesome ideas are filling me with excitement, people are telling me they can’t wait, my neighborhood is stoked…

logo

…and I don’t even have a building yet because my lawyer is dragging his feet, another guy doesn’t listen very well and so keeps asking for official government/legislature answers to questions I never asked and don’t need to know for my business, and a realtor is ridiculously stubborn and apparently set against me renting the building.

I have no idea why these delays are happening. I was supposed to have the legal stuff all set up by the end of July, and moving into the building by the end of August. Grand Opening at the end of September near my birthday. I’ve been working on this since February and got massive amounts done on my own then hit the part where I needed help for the rest of the way.

It literally took 5 accountants before one called me back…meanwhile, I had loan offers from 4 banks. How fucking backward can we get? And now I’m told the building I’ve been trying to view again, after twice telling the realtor I wanted to send him a letter of intent—and he told me he would write it? WTF? Okay, whatever. My lawyer and accountant said if he wants to write it, let him. But now the realtor says he’s got a ‘bona fide’ letter of intent and the owners are considering it and I shouldn’t have waited so long…

Dickhead, you waited. Not me. Because you don’t want to rent me that space.

Unless he’s lying, thinking it will drum up my interest, which is equally annoying. The building’s been empty for 4 years, listed by 2 or 3 different realty companies…and suddenly in the past 6 months 7 different people are interested in buying it?

Whatever.

Listen, I’m superstitious, I’ll admit. I wasn’t going to consider this building after the initial showing, especially because I don’t like the realtor. Creepy vibes and all that. I felt unsafe with just him the building. But…then the universe kept shoving me back toward that place. Over and over, so I gave in and started pursuing it for real, and that’s when I hit all these realtor-made roadblocks.

I’m trusting in the universe. Either I get the building or I don’t. It’s either meant to be mine or it isn’t. We’ll see. I know I’ll geta  great place, the one I’m supposed to be in. But it’s still frustrating when other people block your progress, and more so when you were trucking along just fine on your own. It’s even more galling when a man keeps lying to you because he thinks that’s the best strategy…you don’t know me. I prefer honesty.

I also prefer when assholes get the fuck outta my way and let me do what I need. Thank you very much.

Of Frustration and Temptation by Lisabet Sarai

lisabet

Being an author is not for sissies. You pour your heart and soul into your stories. You spend hours of your scarce time and more money than you can afford on marketing. With each new release, you hope you’ll finally grab the attention of the book-buying crowd, that you’ll get the readership and the remuneration you deserve.

If that doesn’t happen (and given the number of people publishing books these days, odds are that it won’t), you’re stuck with the bitter knowledge that all your passion and effort were for nothing. This can be deeply demoralizing, even if you’re not trying to make your living as an author. If you depend on your writing to pay your bills, you’ve got financial anxiety added to your frustration.

I know this frustration only too well. My books receive consistent five star reviews, but somehow I’ve never been a commercial success. Thus, Damned If You Do is a rather personal story.

What would I do if I could magically turn my books into best sellers? How much would that be worth to me? That’s the question my romance author heroine faces when a mysterious stranger shows up waving a contract and promising her fame and fortune, sensual pleasure and the fulfillment of her most secret desires.

All he asks in return is her soul.

Crazy. Dangerous, maybe. But so, so tempting!

DamnedIfYouDo_400

 

Starving author Wendy Dennison signs a contract with a charismatic stranger, exchanging her soul and her body for fame and commercial success. When she discovers her mild mannered agent Dan has a dominant side, she’s forced to choose either celebrity and wealth, or obscurity and true love.

 

5stars

 

My Review: 5 Stars

Wendy is an author struggling to get noticed and hit big. She makes a comment that we all make so often ‘I’d sell my soul for…’ You can fill in your own blank but, as an author, I can totally relate to Wendy’s wish for best seller status. Lo and behold, a gentleman makes her an offer, but not just the fame and fortune kind—he offers to master Wendy. That is, perhaps, even more tempting than the money and recognition combined.

I love Lisabet Sarai’s stories. They are so richly crafted, the characters so real. In this one, Wendy pores over the contract for her soul, negotiating like the pro every author needs to be. She drives a hard bargain, but in the process begins to lose herself and her autonomy. She does top the charts, however fame and fortune isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

Damned if You Do is about more than just another Faustian bargain. The hope of every author is burned into the pages, the ambition, the fear and the unlikelihood of ever reaching the heights you’ve dreamed of. It’s also about counting the blessings you have already, appreciating them and enjoying them, rather than focusing all of your time and energy on one thing. And there’s sex—lots of steamy sex that will have you squirming in your seat, and a surprise Dom you can’t help but root for.

BUY LINKS

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Barnes & Noble

Kobo

Excessica

Goodreads

 

Giveaway!

I will be giving away three $10 bookstore gift certificates during my release blitz, and three free ebook copies of my BDSM erotic romance The Gazillionaire and the Virgin. I will also give a $5 GC to a randomly selected host. The blitz ends June 1st.

To enter, readers must:

Sign up for my VIP email list:  https://signup.ymlp.com/xgjjhmhugmgh

AND/OR:

Leave a comment with their email address on my release day announcement page:  http://lisabetsarai.blogspot.com/2017/04/out-today-damned-if-you-do-bdsm-pnr.html

About Lisabet

LISABET SARAI occasionally tackles other genres, but BDSM will always be her first love. Every one of her nine novels includes some element of power exchange, while her D/s short stories range from mildly kinky to intensely perverse.

You’ll find information and excerpts from all Lisabet’s books on her website (http://www.lisabetsarai.com/books.html), along with more than fifty free stories and lots more. At her blog Beyond Romance (http://lisabetsarai.blogspot.com), she shares her philosophy and her news and hosts lots of other great authors. She’s also on Goodreads and finally, on Twitter.

Unpublishing Queen Avis

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I jumped into the story too soon. I had an idea for a cuckquean serial and writing a chapter every week was fun, for a little while. But I didn’t do it right. I was disorganized, without a strong idea of what I was writing or how I would end it. Vague notions…

You live, you learn, right?

I’ve spent the past four months working on Avis. Nothing else has gotten done. Three stories have been halted and more story ideas are piling up. I’ve developed anxiety—some of it because of this book. It’s simply not right and I’ve been turning backflips trying to get it together to update what’s already out in the world.

I’ve ripped it apart three times and put it back together twice. I keep doing it wrong. I want to write a strong story, one that shows the emotional journey of Avis and delves into her psyche a bit. I’m not trying to justify or even rationalize her actions and desires, but I do want to touch on what she likes that might be unique to her (though I’m betting many others feel the same way).

Now I’m taking the fragments and redoing it for real. So, once again I have to let everyone know of delays with this book, and again, if you email me with your order information I’ll gift you a copy of the final version when I get it done. My apologies to everyone, but Avis deserves it, and so do my readers. I don’t want something that’s less than my vision demands out in the world mucking things up.

Casey at Night reads Levi

I’ve been blessed to meet some amazing, wonderful supportive people in this industry. One of those people is Casey Carter, the author of provocative, sexy stories such as The Encounter, John, Open House, Tribeca and Murder. Casey has begun a Periscope feature where she reads excerpts of stories from participating authors. I am now one of them. Casey was kind enough to read an excerpt from Levi, the first book in my series, The Garguiem.

You can watch her live reading on replay here.

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The Garguiem are descendants of Fallen angels, those who were cast out for not choosing a side in the Heavenly War. As penance, they now fight evil and corruption, but a group of them led by Gargouille was recruited to protect the Catholic Church in the Middle Ages by the Archbisshop of Rouen. Churches under their protection were marked with gargoyles and grotesques to keep the lurking evil at bay.

Jump to modern times… Levi is asked to investigate demon activity in the St. Ambrose parish, where he meets Marcella. He knows she’s Garguiem like him, but she’s determined to be  a nun. Levi leads her down the path of temptation, which makes her a target of the very creature Levi is searching for…

This is excerpt Casey Carter read:

In the space of seventeen days, Marcella had gone from being an almost-nun with peace in her heart, to a woman tempted beyond all reason by a sexy, tattooed stranger.

Which is why she sat in the last pew of St. Ambrose, listening to Father Tom practice his homily instead of using her free time to finish some of the blankets she’d promised to knit for the homeless shelter. She felt Tom might have been speaking directly to her, for all the relevance his words held. He spoke of temptations of the flesh and how too many met their downfall through the frivolous pursuit of pleasure.

But his words went in one ear and out the other. Marcella’s thoughts were too full of other things, like gargoyles and angels, tattooed hands that held her close and kisses that set her on fire. A future far different from the one she’d imagined, filled with danger, fear and potential loss. Levi claimed she didn’t belong with the Sisters of Clemency of the Divine, but rather with him. Because she was Garguiem.

Marcella felt she was an ordinary woman, trying to live a peaceful, contemplative life in service to God through obedience and chastity. She was not a horny fighter of the demonic, no matter that she’d been pressed into service as Levi’s secretary. And no matter that Levi set her nerves tingling in a way she wasn’t sure she could handle.

What she felt wasn’t just lust for his body, which she was certain she could have ignored. It went so much deeper. The more time she spent with him, the more Marcella came to respect Levi. He was intelligent and honorable in his own way. He was a man of faith, though his faith didn’t resemble anything she was used to and he was generous—not just with her or those positioned in the church hierarchy, but with strangers, the homeless, people passing by on the street. He shook every hand offered to him no matter who it belonged to.

Levi trapped her in a confused world where her struggle to remain virtuous left her ashamed of her body’s interest in his. But needy of it. Desirous and curious, as her heart urged her on.

Soft footfalls sounded behind her. The church was closed and locked until evening Mass—unfortunate, but there were simply too many villains in the world to leave the church open as they’d done in years gone by. Still, she didn’t turn to look at who was approaching because Father Tom never paused in his speech. He gave a little wave and smiled, and that was enough to tell Marcella that Levi was about to intrude on her peace.

He sat next to her, but she knew he would. And when he sat entirely too close, the length of his leg pressed to hers and their shoulders overlapping, she wasn’t surprised. She’d been avoiding him since they’d kissed at the soup kitchen, but she knew she’d eventually have to face him again.

Just not in church. She tried to shuffle away, but his big hand caught her knee and held her still.

She lost her breath. Memories from the last time she’d felt the heat of his hand on her legs swamped her. Levi’s palm burned through her skirt and radiated all the way into Marcella’s calf. Tingles worked their way north, and though they stopped at her upper thighs, the sensation echoed far higher and made her heart pound. She gripped the crucifix around her neck and prayed for strength.

“Shh,” Levi whispered. “Easy.”

It was all well and good for him to give her the order, but he didn’t take his own advice. His fingers rubbed Marcella’s knee in slow circles, pressing hard enough that the fabric of her skirt didn’t mute his touch, but enhanced it. The texture of the material sliding against her skin as Levi massaged her knee seemed to feed into the heat of his hand and sent the fire in her nerves blazing higher.

Then his heat was on her directly, scorching her leg and singeing her lungs. Marcella choked on her gasp, wondering when he’d managed to gather her skirt until his fingers slipped under the hem and touched the space just above her knee cap. Skin-to-skin, electrifying. Dangerous.

She couldn’t move. Scandal, temptation and confusion waged war in her body. Marcella’s cheeks grew hot and she wondered if Father Tom could see how she stiffened, if he could judge Levi’s actions, hidden by the top of the pew in front of them, by the shade of red crawling down her neck. She held her eyes too wide as she stared at the priest and tried to pretend that nothing blasphemous was taking place inside her body.

But she didn’t stop Levi’s fingers from drifting higher. She didn’t know how to and didn’t know if she wanted to—she couldn’t seem to force her hand to cover his and make it be still because shockwaves were ripping through her. She was confused and disoriented, her thoughts sluggish in comparison to the physical sensations Levi heaped on her. They sat in church, listening to a sermon on the sins of sex outside the bonds of marriage, and Levi was bold enough to smooth his fingertips over her naked thigh.

Small circles grew bigger. Hard presses grew softer. The sensation of his skin sliding against Marcella’s became elusive, drawing her closer as her curiosity swelled. A moth to the flame, Marcella’s nerves strained to feel more. She wanted to know what came next and, as the minutes ticked by, she relaxed the set of her thighs. They parted slightly—enough to let Levi slip higher.

Oxygen grew scarce. She felt as if her breathing had become too loud, maybe even echoing all the way through St. Ambrose’s nave, though that could have just been the impression given by the dull throb in her ears. The flames of the candles wavered and Father Tom’s voice faltered, but Marcella knew it was all in her head because, from the corner of her eye, she could see that Levi paid a great deal of attention to the priest.

Marcella lost her fear and relaxed, letting Levi do what he would and trusting that he would protect her from Father Tom’s discovery. She felt safe enough to let her legs fall open. Secure enough to start appreciating the slow slide of fingers on the interior of her thighs, working higher, smoothing over the curves of her muscles. Reaching for her.

She realized then, in that instant, that she trusted the Garguiem completely.

Levi slipped her skirt up until it pooled over her lap. His fingers dipped under the fabric, just out of sight but so close to her heat that Marcella flinched and held her breath. Electricity snapped between her legs and she softened—deep inside she grew liquid and heavy. He ran a fingertip down the center of her underwear in a stroke so gentle, so delicious, that Marcella released the breath she’d held in a shaky rush, tensing so she didn’t give herself away with a violent shiver.

When Levi’s finger stroked down, the fabric of her underwear shifted and Marcella learned that she’d wet them through. Her body had flooded and Levi took advantage, pressing the rough cotton between her folds, adding a textured layer she couldn’t have predicted to his fondling. He made a wide circle and caught her clit in the stroke. Lust set off a flare in her lower belly and Marcella gritted her teeth, desperate to hold back her groan.

Levi’s breath left him on a quiet chuckle that drilled down into her stomach to mingle with the desire squeezing inside her. Marcella felt the sound might as well have penetrated her pussy. Interior muscles clenched and heat surged. It was all she could do not to arch up into his caress as he rubbed her clit.

What they were doing was sacrilegious, dirty and filthy, desecrating the church. She knew she should have been ashamed, but that emotion had been burned out under the heat of Levi’s hand and her own curious lust. In her past, Marcella had been kissed and even touched, but never with such results. She’d never gotten warm and soft and wet, had never wanted a man to go back to the spot where his finger could trace designs directly over the peak that seemed to swell and pulse inside her underwear. She would have stopped anyone else long ago, but Levi was different.

What should have been wrong felt so right. A dark little devil inside her head whispered that pleasure was a gift she should accept. It told her the experience would make her decision to join the Sisters easier, a comparison between what her faith demanded for her future and what her body could feel in the moment. She would finally know what she’d be giving up. Her rational self struggled to shut that voice up, but her body and heart rebelled. What Levi did felt too good to stop.

He pushed his finger under the elastic edge of Marcella’s underwear. Her muscles tensed just in time to keep her from arching off the pew, her thighs jerked and her fingers caught Levi’s wrist. He made a low, rough noise that told her he knew exactly what he was doing and how it made her feel. He knew the temptation battering her better than she did and understood that her body wouldn’t let her stop until it achieved the goal he’d set before it.

Marcella loosened her hold on his wrist and let him continue.

Levi is available on Kindle Unlimited

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Sexy Authors of February

meet them sa

Get to know these amazing authors!

Representing the diversity that makes the Erotica genre so fantastic, these interviews should not be missed. Filled with exclusives, bonus material, teasers and even a few secrets…

mamini

M. A. Stacie is never without a book or her eReader. A voracious reader, with a love of sexy, yet angst ridden novels, she loves getting lost in new worlds.

Read the rest of M.A.’s interview on Always Sexy

lucymini

Lucy Felthouse is the award-winning author of erotic romance novels Stately Pleasures (named in the top 5 of Cliterati.co.uk’s 100 Modern Erotic Classics That You’ve Never Heard Of, and an Amazon bestseller), Eyes Wide Open (winner of the Love Romances Café’s Best Ménage Book 2015 award, and an Amazon bestseller) and The Persecution of the Wolves. Including novels, short stories and novellas, she has over 150 publications to her name.

Read the rest of Lucy’s interview on Always Sexy

alexamini

Originally from South Wales, Alexa has lived for over thirty years in the North West of England. Now retired, after a long career in teaching, she devotes her time to her obsessions. Alexa began writing when her favourite character was killed in her favourite show. After producing a lot of fanfiction, she ventured into original writing. She is currently owned by two mad cats and spends her time writing about the men in her head, watching her favourite television programmes and usually crying over her favourite football team.

Read the rest of Alexa’s interview on Always Sexy

ltmini

Emerging author, Lauren Shade, known by her pen L.T. Shade, lives in tropical Miami, Florida. When she’s not writing, she spends her time reading, watching really cheesy romantic comedies, overdosing on Cuban coffee, and hanging out with her amazing partner and her American Cocker Spaniel, Albie.

Read the rest of L.T.’s interview on Always Sexy

Thanks to these amazing authors for letting me interview them!

Follow the links to read their unique posts.

Happy Release Day to Jenna Fox!

I was given the privilege of reading this story before anyone else. My Critique Partner, Jenna Fox, has crafted a billionaire story that will leave the masses swooning. Dark, dangerous and desperately tempting, this tale is an emotional roller coaster, one typical of all Jenna’s story. With the second part out today, just in time for Valentine’s Day, Taffi and Sullivan will leave you breathless.

BOUND FOREVER

Pleasing the Manwhore, book 2

by Jenna Fox

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